Suggested Courses for SMFA Students

The Tufts University Department of Philosophy has a reputation for its strengths in several branches of philosophy, including philosophy of mind and philosophy of science, but it also provides avenues for exploring the arts from new perspectives. The Department opens these opportunities to students both through course subject matter and through faculty guidance.

A variety of Tufts University philosophy courses may be of exceptional interest to students of the arts. Below are just a few of the most noteworthy courses of potential relevance to the aspiring artist:

  • Aesthetics
  • History of Modern Philosophy
  • Knowing and Being
  • Nothingness
  • Philosophy & Film
  • Philosophy of Mind

Aside from these courses, a number of philosophy faculty members are actively interested in the arts and share an appreciation for the creativity and originality of thought brought by artists. Though all philosophy faculty have unique perspectives to offer, arts students may be particularly interested in studying with Nancy Bauer, Professor Stephen White, Professor Mario De Caro, Professor Avner Baz, Professor Lydia Amir, or Professor David Denby.

Professor Nancy Bauer

Nancy Bauer is interested in thinking about what philosophy is and what role it plays, or should or might play, in everyday human life. Her writing explores these issues, especially as they arise in reflection about gender and philosophy, the history of philosophy, and philosophy and film. She is the author of the books How to Do Things With Pornography (Harvard University Press, 2015) and Simone de Beauvoir, Philosophy, and Feminism (Columbia University Press, 2001). Bauer received her PhD in Philosophy from Harvard after majoring in Social Studies as an undergraduate, working as a reporter and a medical writer, and attending divinity school. She enjoys hanging out with her family, wrestling with the Sunday NYT crossword puzzle, lifting heavy weights, and listening to all things rock and roll. She's also never without her knitting.

Professor Lydia Amir

Professor Amir is an expert in the history of modern philosophy, contemporary European philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics. She writes about humor and the good life. She is a leader in the "philosophical counseling" movement. She has a broad intellect, a cosmopolitan perspective, and a special ability to relate philosophy to culture and the arts.

Professor Avner Baz

Professor Baz is in engaged in research on perception, which some might say is the sine qua non of any art. His work on perception connects to questions of motivation, which may inform an understanding of the creative process. For instance, in his most recent paper, he argues that since the perceived world is indeterminate—in the sense that it could always be perceived in different ways—and since we are motivated by that world, it follows that our motivation is itself indeterminate: contrary to what many in contemporary ethical theory and the philosophy of action presuppose, there is no unique true and full answer to the question why we did or said (of thought, or felt) this or that.

Professor Mario De Caro

Professor De Caro is versed in a wide range of philosophical and historical topics. He regularly teaches a course that focuses on film as a means of exploring and communicating these problems. This fall he will teach a course on the history of modern philosophy, in which he will also discuss the Renaissance and some aesthetics issues. His classes regularly involve the use of videos and movie clips.

Professor David Denby

Professor Denby teaches on a rich variety of philosophical topics, from questions about the nature of reality (metaphysics) to questions of how to live ethically. Professor Denby's breadth of knowledge and distinguished approach to teaching provide a unique learning opportunity for students of the arts.

Professor Stephen White

Professor Stephen White did his undergraduate work in philosophy and mathematics at Berkeley. He did a second BA in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. He studied filmmaking briefly at UCLA before returning to Berkeley for his PhD in philosophy. His current interests outside philosophy include film and photography.